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Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A subtle film, 4 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Closely Observed Trains [DVD] [1966] (DVD)
Closely observed trains by Ji'í Menzel

This coming-of-age story about Milos, a young man working as a trainee railway station master in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II, is a 1966 Czechoslovak film directed by Ji'rí Menzel. It is based on a story by Bohumil Hrabal, filmed on location in Central Bohemia, and was produced by Barrandov Studios. It won the 1967 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

As regularly with Hrabal's stories, many things come together, private (the young man has not had intercourse yet) and public - the Czechs are forced to provide railway services under rather ruthless German management, which (rightly, as it turns out) does not trust them, sets special security requirements and assigns troops for particularly important transports.

Train dispatcher and deputy station master Hubic'ka sees to getting the apprentice's private needs fulfilled. A sexy conductress, Mása, spends the night with Milos, but he finds no success due to ejaculatio praecox and, the next day, he attempts an unsuccessful suicide. The topic, however, continues.

In a funnily comic side episode, dispatcher Hubi'cka, during the nightshift, flirts with telegraphist Zdeni'ka, and chops her buttocks with the office's rubber stamps. Her mother complains to the superiors, but her daughter denies any discomfort or ill-feelings. It is finally Viktoria, a young artiste, who delivers a bomb to the station and who, at Hubi'ka's request, helps Milos to resolve "his problem".

As a counter-service, Hubi'ka uses Milos to sabotage the important train passing through by throwing the explosive from a signal tower into the last railway wagon. However, Milos is spotted by a security guard on the train, who shoots him down, killing him; the train still explodes as planned.

A sad story? Yes and no: The microcosm of the provincial railway station, where the station master is an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder, and the job is done by staff assigned by the Railway Administration, is near-idyllic, and even the sad outcome does not come as a shock. The subtlety and deep humour with which Menzel tells the story - with all excellent actors - leaves a happy audience, despite the lacking happy end.

57 - 4 February 2012
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jun 2015 18:50:01 BDT
Is this in English? I am guessing not.

Posted on 28 Jun 2016 13:10:17 BDT
It won the 1968 academy award. After the Prague Spring!
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